One of the pieces I’m working on right now is creating a map highlighting how food businesses (grocery stores/restaurants/cafes) create destinations where people come and bring communities together. The above is a draft of a map I’m working on right now,
Through Mapping Morsels, I visualize these themes through the context of Oakland Chinatown. Our main character is Linda, who runs Phnom Penh House Restaurant in Oakland Chinatown.
Every day, to stock up on vegetables and meat, as well as other sauces and herbs, to cook for her customers, she makes a daily grocery trip throughout Chinatown!
For example, one dish is composed of several ingredients purchased from one, two, or three grocery stores throughout Chinatown. Linda has kindly allowed me to map out which stores she goes to as well as which ingredients make up the dishes she buys.
In other words:
Let’s map the ingredients and stores she goes throughout this map:
By showing these connections, viewers/readers will begin to see how food is an integral part of bringing people together. Without these places to purchase or eat food, there is one less place in a city for people to come together, meet up. In fact, I argue restaurants/cafes/grocery stores contribute to a unique identity to a community, as well as bringing economic vitality to a community.
If you think about it, you have to go to a grocery store to purchase your weekly groceries. You go to a cafe or restaurant to bond in an informal setting with your friends and family. These atmospheres are places where you can get away from the daily grind of work. What I wish to accomplish is that we should value these sort of places.
As I work more on these future projects, I hope to create a portfolio of work that bridges the public participation process between government agencies and local community members.
Lately, I’ve been pondering over the role of my work when I draw, illustrate, and how it can serve to tell a story, create trust and excitement over an idea, inspire, or help communicate an idea once seemed unclear.
I think I’ve discovered that this is my role when I illustrate and draw.
To use my trip to Taiwan as an example, I felt sort of guilty for not purchasing that many souvenirs from Taipei (I think I was so absorbed by the culture that it was hard for me to shop), as some friends pointed out.
At the same time, I’ve also realized that many of my friends don’t know anything (or know VERY few about Taiwan). I don’t have any close Taiwanese friends, so I went traveling with very little guides (I used Taipei543 most of the time when I was there).
Ever since I got back from Taiwan, I’ve been really excited about the country almost everyday, but to most of my friends, Taiwan is just an island, and they have no idea how to understand the place I’ve visited and have fell in love with.
When I draw, and illustrate, I’ve discovered after much reflection that my role as an illustrator, designer, and artist is to communicate experiences based on my imagination and my observations in society.
This is deeply personal to me as my style, I try to be as optimistic as I can in life. I like bright colors and my sketches and drawings have evolved to convey a sense of peacefulness, colorfulness, togetherness, and happiness. As a city planner as well, I would like to create lifestyles in my illustration in the city that are not only exciting, but inspire others to come and live in a healthy lifestyle that is good for the individual as well as the planet.
Using illustrations to convey an experience is a way for me to establish trust among different ideas and people and to inspire action, because, to quote: “a picture speaks a 1000 words”.
To bring it back from abstraction:
The sense of colorfulness, activity, convenience, in a city is exciting to me. I miss my trip in Taipei & Taiwan and wish to bring that to the rest of the world. Taiwan is a very underrated destination that I want to share to people, to the rest of the world. (this is one reason why I want to come back and plan to do so: the lifestyle in Taiwan is something people can learn from outside the country, i.e. the USA). I want to tell a story to the world that Taiwan is an awesome place through illustrations.
And thus, this is my role as an illustrator: I am to tell stories, recreate and rediscover experiences, and inspire action.